To my Christian family:
This has been an incredibly tough week. I’m despondent that the candidate I voted for lost the election despite receiving more votes. I am terrified of our President-elect’s attitudes towards minorities, the underprivileged, and those who want nothing more than to join us in this American melting pot. But most of all, I’m horrified that many of you who preach love and acceptance have validated a campaign rooted in hatred and oppression with your vote.
I voted with you in 2000 and 2004, and I remember many of the feelings we shared then. We believed that Christianity was under attack. We believed that a fertilized egg deserved full human rights including the right to life. We believed that gay marriage would erode the all-important nuclear family.
But things change.
I now understand that Christianity is not under attack, but when you’re used to a position of privilege, the equal inclusion of others often feels like oppression against you. I now understand that a handful of human cells is no more biologically a human than a few bricks are architecturally a house. I now understand that regardless of the gender of the participants, marriage empowers two people to enter into a loving commitment to one another backed by the authority of the State.
Most of all, I now understand that no matter where we stand on these issues, the single greatest thing about our country is the declared right of every single person to strive toward the pursuit of their own happiness.
I assume that the vote you cast on Tuesday seemed to promise some benefit for you and your own interests. However, your vote has unleashed a wave of hate against those less privileged than you. Such outcomes are certainly not great, and we haven’t even sworn in our new President yet. When you cast this vote, I can only surmise that you were not considering those who might be excluded by your candidate’s vision of what he thinks will “make America great again”. Maybe no one close to you had made known to you how threatened they are by his proposed version of America. Maybe it seems that everyone you care about is a white Christian just like you. If so, please let me speak up now:
I am an atheist.
No, I’m not rebelling against my Christian upbringing because I was in some way wronged by the church. I simply have grown to value reason and evidence enough to not keep accepting something as true just because I was told as a child that a 2000-year-old book contained all of the answers to life. I see no evidence of the existence of any god, let alone reason sufficient to invest my time and money in service of one. As a nonbeliever, I have no place in your candidate’s vision for America: “one people under one god”.
Our nation is growing even more polarized in the wake of this election, and it seems that the first step towards considering perspectives outside of our own might be to simply take the time to sit down and hear each other out. I truly want to understand what issues may have been so important to you this year that the overt racism and bigotry displayed by your candidate was not a disqualifying factor for securing your vote. What exactly matters more to you than the equal treatment of your fellow Americans?
I’d love to have these discussions in person where we can really take the time to hear each other out. As much as I love digital communication, it too often disconnects us from the humanity sitting on the other end of the keyboard. Only by taking the time to consider the perspectives of some Americans most unlike ourselves might we be “one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all”.
With hope for our country’s future and a love founded on our shared humanity,
PS: This week, I have become a supporting member of the following organizations. They are fighting for me and those like me in the absence of a national leader that will. If the content of this letter resonates with you, I encourage you to consider supporting them also.